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December 12, 2018

Mayor’s Press Office



In an address to the City Council and other city leaders, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today laid
out viable options to help the city continue to honor its pension obligations while
continuing to expand the economy and reduce the burden on taxpayers.

“In 2011, Chicago’s pension funds were heading toward insolvency, jeopardizing a secure
retirement for workers like first responders and teachers. Together, we have made
progress to ensure these hard-working Chicagoans have a retirement they can depend on
as well,” said Mayor Emanuel. “My fundamental philosophy has always been that solutions
to our pension challenges must be based on a progressive, shared approach. For workers
and retirees, pensions represent the work of a lifetime – the hard-earned reward for
showing up every day to do their job, keep their word, and live up to their responsibility.”

In the next several years, the City’s pension obligations are projected to increase based on
state law. In 2020, the City will require an additional $276 million and in 2022, the City will
require an additional $310 million.

The Mayor laid out four major solutions that can reduce the burden – before asking more of
 Constitutional Amendment. The Mayor recommends pursuing a Constitutional
amendment to allow benefit reforms that will ensure long-term retirement security
for workers and protect taxpayers, as well as provide flexibility to move cost-of-
living increases more in line with the economy.
 Fund Stabilization Bonds. The mayor is introducing legislation to take the first step
toward Fund Stabilization Bonds, which would function similarly to refinancing a
mortgage by refinancing a portion of the city’s $28 billion pension debt at a lower
rate. The bonds would not create any new debt for the city, and would reduce
taxpayers’ burden by $6 to $7 billion over the life of the proposal. It would also
immediately improve the health of the pension funds. Additional information on the
ordinance introduced today is attached.
 Legalized marijuana. The mayor recommends ensuring that Chicago shares in
revenue from recreational use of legalized marijuana and allowing Chicago to raise
its own revenue from marijuana by establishing a home rule taxing authority.
 Chicago casino. The mayor recommends advocating for a Chicago-owned casino,
with the revenue dedicated to workers’ pensions. The mayor is supporting
legislation that will be introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to move forward
with this concept.

The full text of the Mayor’s remarks as prepared for delivery is below.